These are very important essays often required to be done by students. Compare and contrast essays help students to compare different but related topics together. The whole rationale behind the use of compare/contrast essays is that through them, students can work on their critical thinking.
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It helps them develop the ability to sift through ideas and weigh them in an objective fashion, and build connections between different concepts. The student is able to obtain a better understanding of the concepts and relationships between concepts and this adds to the understanding of the subject as a whole.
As for example, the processes photosynthesis and respiration are often compared and contrasted in science lessons. The two processes share similar kind of processes, though their uses are different. Both are related to the use and production of energy. Hence, a compare and contrast essay, will shed insight on the overall process of energy production and use in living organisms.
Through compare-contrast essays, the similarities and differences between processes, philosophies, technologies and their interconnections can be established. To write this kind of essay, the student needs to choose two topics or subjects which are sufficiently different yet related in some ways.
One important thing which needs to be kept in mind is that there would be some technical differences between the way you write a compare and contrast essays. If you are writing a comparison essay, you have to elaborate on the similarities only or the similarities and differences between two different subjects. If you are writing a contrast essay, it is based solely on the differences between two subjects. The essay serves the following purposes: clears up any existing confusions or ambiguities on the topics, introduces new ideas and enriches our understanding of the topic; sharpens focus on the topics and helps us to understand them in more detail than before;
The essay structure comprises of an introduction, body and conclusion. The thesis statement in the introduction is the hook which should grab the attention of the reader. The thesis statement represents the main argument and should summarize your intention with respect to the issue and how the compare/contrast will help in further understanding of the topic. The compare and contrast portions of the text would be in the form of two or three major points which are distributed in the form of paragraphs.
This statement explains what the essay is about and what the reader can expect from the comparison. The next section would go onto describing the processes, comparing them from the shared similarities and the differences. Students can use mind maps and Venn diagrams to sort out the different ideas before putting them down in the form of arguments. It will help organize the text even better.
Venn Diagrams are particularly helpful, as they help you to distinguish between the similarities and differences in an easy way. Each comparison point between the two subjects need not be equally dealt with i.e. differential treatment in terms of development is fine.
Having said that, there are ways you can organize the body of the essay. One is through the block method, where each subject is detailed out separately. Another way is through the point by point method, as discussed above. A third way to organise the body is to start with the comparisons, followed by the contrasts.
The use of clearly defined sentences and use of transition phrases and connectors can make the essay more impactful.